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Top 10 Classic CarsNotes From The Road

Top 10 Classic Cars
By Debbie Murphy/

"Classic" is a relative term. Technically speaking, the only real guideline is age: A car has to reach 25 to warrant the designation. For some enthusiasts, the term is reserved for Stutz Bearcats; for others, it's that rusty thing in the garage, on blocks with its insides strewn about in mid-autopsy.

Putting together a list of the top 10 classic cars is, therefore, a subjective process. My classics may not be yours. In an attempt to qualify our choices, we went to the marketplace where the value of a classic is unfortunately best determined—the car thief. Who else has their finger(prints) on the pulse of the most desirable target? Hagerty Insurance, the largest insurer of collectible cars, put together its own top 10 list of the most stolen classics.

Chevrolet Corvettes, 1966 to 1982
Chevy started production on the Corvette, labeled the poor man's supercar for its combination of raw power and affordability, in 1953. By 1966, the Corvette was at the end of its second generation, powered by a 396-cube big block that punished all comers with 425 horsepower. The third generation, patterned after Chevy's Mako Shark designed by Larry Shinoda, was inadvertently introduced as a Hot Wheels model. While the styling changed subtly over the next 16 years, the power declined to 200 hp with the move to unleaded gas, emission controls and catalytic converters. Only recently have we seen the return of those golden years of mega-horsepower, ensuring that today's Corvette's will eventually be classics as well.

Ford Mustang, 1964 to 1969
The first Mustang rolled off the assembly line in Dearborn, Michigan, on March 9, 1964, and into the hearts of then teenaged baby boomers. The chassis, suspension and drivetrain were taken from the much less exciting Falcon, but the Mustang earned immediate attention, including Motor Trend's Car of the Year and a spot as the 1964 Indy 500 Pace Car. The '64 was powered by an inline 6-cylinder engine rated at 105 horsepower and included a long list of options so each owner had the sense of a custom car. Just one year after its introduction, Ford put bigger engines in its new pony, maxing out with a 225 horsepower 289ci powerplant. By the early '70s, the Mustang platform went from compact to midsize.

Chevrolet Impala, 1958 to 1967
The early Impalas were a celebration of tail fins. Following a one-of-a-kind introduction in 1956, the Impala took its official place at the top of the Chevy line two years later, offered as an upscale trim package to the Bel Air coupes and convertibles. That first year, engine options ranged from a 234 horsepower six cylinder to a 315 horsepower Super Turbo Thrust. "Impala" became its own line with more size and maxed out batwing rear fenders in 1959. By 1961, however, the tail fins were basically gone and the styling became more subtle as engineering concentrated on performance. By 1967, the Impala had regained some of its size and weight with a pronounced fastback roof design and a maximum 385 horsepower V-8.

Chevrolet Camaro, 1968 to 1969
Chevy's musclecar was introduced in 1967 in response to the popularity of Ford's Mustang. The most sought-after model years represent the first generation of the Camaro. The top of the line trim package, the Z28, included a 6.5-liter, 350 horsepower V-8 big block. The following year, the drivetrain stayed the same, but the design went sportier with a lower, wider, more aggressive stance and engine options that included a 7.0-liter, 425 horsepower V-8. The '69 model year went all the way to December of that year due to production problems with the onset of the second-generation Camaro. Recently, Chevrolet trotted out a concept car that hearkens back to the Camaro's early days in an effort to recapture some lost youth and excitement.

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